“I want to do it all by myself!”
That has become an overused phrase in our house lately. Our three year old has decided that he, in fact, wants to do it ALL by himself. Some of these things include dressing himself, putting the toothpaste on his toothbrush, brushing his teeth, buckling his car seat, wiping after going to the bathroom, drying off when getting out of the shower, putting lotion on and pouring his own drinks….just to name a few ?
While this new found independence is really great, and surprisingly helpful in some ways, it’s really testing my patience.
I have lost so many minutes of my day waiting for him to do it all by his self. In fact, I am writing this right now on my phone as I wait for him to buckle up.
I understand that this is a huge step developmentally and I’m very proud of him for all the things he can accomplish. Truly, in many ways I dreamed of the day when my children were just a little less needy. I love that I have a little doer, a helper….that is when it’s helpful. But there’s a lot of unhelpful with the helpful right?
….oh, you used half the roll of toilet paper? great glad you’re clean and I’m also thrilled the toilet is clogged.
…oh, you poured your own cup of milk? Did you notice you missed the cup 90% of the time?
…oh, you washed your own hands? It would have been more helpful if you had turned the faucet off and didn’t block the drain with that wash cloth.
There are so many times each day that I feel like pulling my hair out and screaming because what could have been an easy task has now been made into this complex, time consuming project.
It’s not his fault, right? Well, actually it is ?.
Like the other day when he was determined to show me he could open the yogurt “all by himself”. He proceeded to pull the top of and he, accidentally, flung the entire yogurt across the kitchen leaving a huge mess and him wanting to open another one. Now, he did help me clean up the mess BUT STILL!! It took EVERYTHING in me not to lose it.
I watched it happen.
He didn’t know it was going to happen.
I knew it was going to happen.
But I only knew it was going to happen because I’ve been on the other end of that before, even as an adult, as you break that seal and the contents spray from the pressure. I’ve been there, I know how to avoid it but I had to learn too. And so does he.
It doesn’t mean we can’t correct them, that we can’t tell them when they are doing something wrong. However, it does mean that we have to let them figure it out, to do it “all by themselves” even though you and I both know, they aren’t doing it by themselves.
And that’s just it.
When it comes down it, I don’t think any of us are freaking out about the mess or the opportunity for our kids to learn or show how they have developed. As I was whining to my husband about the yogurt and “what a waste it was” he calmly reminded me that the yogurt was less than a dollar and, although waste is never what we aim for, it wasn’t the end of the world. So, as I knelt down to wipe up all the yogurt that had been splattered across my kitchen, I realized that it wasn’t the yogurt, it was the loss of control ?.
It wasn’t about the yogurt, or the clogged toilet, or the flooded sink. It was actually about the fact that I didn’t have control over the situation anymore. You know, the way I had for the last 3 years with him.
It really bothered me on a level I wasn’t even aware of for weeks.
He’s trying things on his own and I haven’t been able to control exactly what happens, not that I ever really have, but it felt like I was in the past. They have been my choices, my decisions, my actions. Now they are his.
I sounds like a control freak and maybe it’s because I am, but what mom isn’t? We’re responsible for these little humans, we have to desire some kind of control to keep them safe, no?
They want to do it all by themselves and we have to let them.
So mama, sit down and enjoy the cup of coffee, that piece of chocolate or the silence that comes in those moments of “doing it by myself.”
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